Identification & Links

Identification of animals ranges from very simple, such as figuring out that the large, furry, naked-tailed critter is an oppossum, to essentially impossible without dissection, a microscope, and the scientific literature (many moths, some spiders, and lots of other insects). I have done my best with limited time and resources to identify as many of the animals as I can. Since I don't want to kill my photographic subjects, I have to rely on the photographs and my memory to identify what I've found. This is a significant limitation, but I'm more interested in enjoying my walks and observing than needing to know the name of everything I've found. In other words, I'm sure I've gotten many of the identifications wrong, particularly down to the species level. If you think I've gotten something wrong, send me an email.

Starting in the fall of 2009, I've been making an attempt to include entries for all of the species that might be found in eastern Massachusetts, even if I don't have a photo yet. So far I've been able to find lists of birds, reptiles, amphibians, mammals, butterflies, and dragonflies. I've edited most of these lists somewhat because they include animals that won't be found in my part of eastern MA, such as a Blue whale, or because the lists include historical sightings that seem unlikely to recur.

I have organized the site by commonly recognized groups such as Arachnids, Amphibians, etc. I have followed the taxonomy in the Tree of Life, but have hopped around the Tree a bit. I have excluded many clades near the root of the Metazoan Tree that I am not likely to be able to find, such as Ctenophora (no comb jellies in Lexington!), or that have animals that are extremely hard to identify, such as most of the "worm" clades. I am always tempted to draw a simple tree that would show where my top level groups are in the Tree of Life, but it always ends up being too hard to fit -- the diversity of life is tremendous! I highly recommend browsing the Tree of Life site (see below).

General

The Tree of Life - I love the Tree of Life site. In their words, "The Tree of Life Web Project (ToL) is a collaborative effort of biologists and nature enthusiasts from around the world. On more than 10,000 World Wide Web pages, the project provides information about biodiversity, the characteristics of different groups of organisms, and their evolutionary history (phylogeny)." I've found it to be an excellent resource on all sorts of animals & plants, including extinct ones.

The Encyclopedia of Life - Another site dedicated to providing information online about every living species. It is less focused on taxonomy and phylogeny and more focused on the ecology of the species. The ToL & EoL groups have agreed to work together to avoid duplicating effort.

Burlington, MA -- Town home page. The Conservation Commission web site has maps and information about all of the conservation land in Burlington.

Lexington, MA -- Town home page. The Conservation Commission web site has maps and information about all of the conservation land in Lexington.

ClimateProgress -- An excellent blog to keep you appraised of climate change news. It also has readable summaries of the scientific literature.

Local Conservation Groups

Citizens for Lexington Conservation -- Citizens for Lexington Conservation is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation and promotion of the natural environment in the town of Lexington, Massachusetts.

Friends of Arlington Great Meadows -- "The Friends of Arlington's Great Meadows are committed to the protection and stewardship of this valuable natural landscape with the participation of members and town officials of the communities of Arlington, Lexington and the surrounding region."

Amphibians

The list of amphibians which live in my section of the suburbs, Middlesex County, was taken from the Massachusetts Department of Fish & Game web site. Cardoza, James E. and Mirick, Peter G., "State Reptiles and Amphibians List," Fauna of Massachusetts Series No. 3, 3rd ed., 2000, Revised 2009.

The Reptiles and Amphibians of the Poconos and Northeastern Pennsylvania, John Serrao, Llewellyn & McKane, Inc., 2000.

Behler, John L. and King, F. Wayne, National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Reptiles and Amphibians, Alfred A. Knopf, 1979.

Birds

To determine which birds to include here, as well as for identification, I used the distribution maps from the National Geographic Society Field Guide to the Birds of North America, 2nd Edition. Since these are inexact, and since I couldn't always tell whether a colored area overlapped Massachusetts, I'm sure I've included some birds that don't come to MA, and excluded others that do. I've also included many sea-birds that may never come close to shore, although if they did, MA would be in their range. I've been poking around on the web and found some other resources. Sometime in the future I'll revisit this and try to improve it.

The Tree of Life, Birds

Marj Rines' Birding Pages

MassBird - A great site with tons of information and links for birding in Massachusetts.

Fish

Gilbert, Carter R., & Williams, James D., National Audubon Society Field Guide to Fishes of North America, Alfred A. Knopf, 2002.

Thanks to Emily Shadler, Richard Wolk, a fisheries professor at UVM, and a researcher at Harvard, both of whose names I'd like to know so I can thank them properly.

Organization for the Assabet River

Mammals

James E. Cardoza, Gwilym S. Jones, and Thomas W. French, State Mammal List, Massachusetts Division of Fish & Wildlife.

Whitaker Jr., John O., National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mammals, Alfred A. Knopf, 1996.

Reptiles

"Field Guide to the Reptiles of Massachusetts," Massachusetts Wildlife, No. 2, 2009.

Cardoza, James E. and Mirick, Peter G., "State Reptiles and Amphibians List," Fauna of Massachusetts Series No. 3, 3rd ed., 2000, Revised 2009

Behler, John L. and King, F. Wayne, National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Reptiles and Amphibians, Alfred A. Knopf, 1979.

Parners in Amphibian & Reptile Conservation (PARC)

Snakes of North America

New England Turtle Atlas

The Turtle Conservation Project

Arachnids

Species lists for the different spider families come from my perusal of BugGuide. There are likely to be many more species that occur in MA than what I have included here, for at least 2 reasons: BugGuide doesn't yet have a photo from MA, or I missed the entry.

Species list for the Anyphaenidae from Norman Platnick, The Spider Family Anyphaenidae in America North of Mexico, BMCZ, 146-4, 197 with some genus changes from BugGuide (which I guessed at and might have gotten wrong).

Ubick, D., Paquin, P., Cushing, P.E., Roth, V., Spiders of North America: An Identification Manual, American Arachnological Society, 2005.

Howell, W. Mike and Jenkins, Ronald L., Spiders of the Eastern United States, Pearson Education, 2004.

Milne, Lorus, Milne, Margery, and Rayfield, Susan, National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Insects and Spiders, Alfred A. Knopf, 1980.

Weber, Larry, Spiders of the North Woods, Kollath+Stensaas Publishing, 2003.

Bradley, Richard A., Common Spiders of North America, University of California Press, 2013.

Iowa State's Deer Tick Home Page

University of Nebraska-Lincoln Tick Page

The Tree of Life Project, Arachnids

BugGuide -- A great site with tons of excellent photos, taxonomy, and information.

Jumping Spider Gallery

Spiders of Ohio -- A site run by the university of Ohio with photographs and lots of useful information.

Tom Murray's Arachnids

Nick's Spiders of Britain and Europe -- Lots of excellent photos.

Nick's Spiders of North America -- Lots of excellent photos.

BugBios

Insect Photography Web Ring

Crustaceans

Voshell Jr., J. Reese, A Guide to Common Freshwater Invertebrates of North America, The McDonald and Woodward Publishing Co., 2002.

Tom Murray's Crustaceans

Insects

Marshall, Stephan A., Insects: Their Natural History and Diversity, Firefly Books Ltd., 2006. A great book!

Marshall, Stephan A., Flies: The Natural History and Diversity of Diptera, Firefly Books Ltd., 2012.

Murray, Tom, Insects of New England & New York, Kollath+Stensaas Publishing, 2012.

Pyle, Robert Michael, Nehring, Carol, and Opper, Jane, National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Butterflies, Alfred A. Knopf, 1981.

Milne, Lorus, Milne, Margery, and Rayfield, Susan, National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Insects and Spiders, Alfred A. Knopf, 1980.

Dunkle, Sidney W., Dragonflies through Binoculars, Oxford University Press, 2000.

Nikula, B., Loose, J., & Burne, M., A Field Guide to the Dragonflies and Damselflies of Massachusetts, Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife and Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program, 2003.

Lam, Ed, Damselflies of the Northeast, Biodiversity Books, 2004.

Capinera, John L., Scott, Ralph D., and Walker, Thomas J., Field Guide to Grasshoppers, Katydids, and Crickets of the United States, Cornell University Press, 2004.

The Tree of Life Project, Insects

BugGuide -- A great site with tons of excellent photos, taxonomy, and information.

Tom Whelan's Nature Diary -- Beautiful photographs from another Lexington resident.

Sam Jaffe's The Art of Survival -- Beautiful photographs of mostly Massachusetts wildlife.

USDA Bumble Bees of the Eastern United States -- An excellent, well-illustrated identification guide for bumblebees.

DiscoverLife bee key -- on-line key to the bees.

Nick's Insects -- Lots of excellent photos of mostly British & European insects

BugBios

Web Images of North American Moth Species -- This site contains a comprehensive indexed list of species with links to photographs. The photos range in quality from poor to excellent.

Moth Photographers Group of Eastern North America -- This is a fabulous site. They have excellent photographs of living moths in addition to pinned specimens. They are also adding caterpillars, eggs, and pupae.

Butterflies and Moths of North America -- This site is run by the Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center. It covers all of North America with the ability to list species by state. Unfortunately, at least from my point of view, most of the photographs are of pinned specimens.

Moths of South Carolina -- This site contains a comprehensive indexed list of species with links to photographs. The photos range in quality from poor to excellent.

Moths and Butterflies of Georgia and the Southeastern United States -- Another comprehensive list with photographs. In general, I've found the photographs at this site to be better than those from Web Images of North American Moth Species, but not as good as Lynn Scott's.

Lynn Scott's Lepidoptera Images -- Excellent photographs of live Canadian moths.

Larry Line's Moths of Maryland -- Excellent photos of live moths, mostly from Maryland.

Illustrated Guide to Microlepidoptera -- Excellent photos, including all life stages.

Lepidopterists' Society Links page -- Links to tons of butterfly and moth sites

Holland, W. J., The Moth Book, Doubleday, Page & Co., New York, 1904.

Himmelman, John, Discovering Moths, Down East Books, Camden, 2002 along with www.connecticutmoths.com.

Sogaard, Jim, Moths & Caterpillars of the North Woods, Kollath+Stensaas Publishing, 2009.

Checklist of moths of North America

Buttefly, Moth, and Dragonfly books and links -- A nice summary of most of the available books.

The Butterfly Place -- A beautiful place to spend an afternoon, especially if you have kids.

Myrmecos Blog -- Lots of great photography and articles about insects.

Dick Walton Natural History Services -- Excellent photos and fantastic videos.

Myriapods

BugGuide - A great site with tons of excellent photos, taxonomy, and information.

Gastropods

Voshell Jr., J. Reese, A Guide to Common Freshwater Invertebrates of North America, The McDonald and Woodward Publishing Co., 2002.

The Terrestrial Mollusc Tool

All the Rest

Fungi

A nice article about the fungus Gymnosporangium.

Stinkhorns: The Phallaceae and Clathraceae

Barron, George, Mushrooms of Northeast North America, Lone Pine Publishing, 1999.

Ferns

Citizens for Lexington Conservation Fern Key

Cullina, William, Native Ferns, Moss & Grasses, Houghton Mifflin, 2008.

Wildflowers

Go Botany - The New England Wildflower Association's online ID keys to more than 1200 common native and naturalized plants.

Uva, Richard H., Neal, Josesph C., and DiTomaso, Joseph M., Weeds of the Northest, Comstock Publishing Associates, 1997.

Trees & Shrubs

Go Botany - The New England Wildflower Association's online ID keys to more than 1200 common native and naturalized plants.

Little, Elbert L., National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Trees - Eastern Region, Alfred A. Knopf, 1980.

Moss

Cullina, William, Native Ferns, Moss & Grasses, Houghton Mifflin, 2008.

McKnight, K., Rohrer, J., Ward, K., and Perdrizet W., Common Mosses of the Northeast and Appalachians, Princeton University Press, 2013.

Ohio Moss and Lichen Association -- Photos, plus lots of other information.

Lincoln, Mary S. G., Liverworts of New England, The New York Botanical Garden Press, 2008.

Lycophytes

Lichens

Hinds, James W. and Patricia L., The Macrolichens of New England, The New York Botanical Garden Press, 2007.

Grasses

Go Botany - The New England Wildflower Association's online ID keys to more than 1200 common native and naturalized plants.

Cullina, William, Native Ferns, Moss & Grasses, Houghton Mifflin, 2008.

Algae


Acknowledgements

Thanks to John and Jane Balaban for many helpful identifications!

Thanks to Doug Wechsler for identifying a number of my "unknowns".


Home Insects Spiders